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From what I understand, meat packers rely heavily on illegal immigrants to staff their facilities, those people don't have a choice or a voice and just want to get by. If they paid people a decent wage to work in these industries, or hired legal employees who could speak out, things would be a lot different. The same situation happened in the early 1900s when The Jungle was written. Sad situation, taking advantage of people in order to continue animal abuse :(
Katy was right that there's many illegal immigrants used for processing the meat to keep it fairly cheap. From the documentaries I've watched, it doesn't look like they are teated much better than animals. The night shifts get themselves locked in the plant and if the knife slips and cut themselves then it would be their own bad luck.
I think they suffer from psychological disorder from this type of treatment and tried to justify their situation by convincing themselves that animals are items or meant-to-be-killed beings, so there were sickening cases in the slaughter house such as the workers used a tied-up live turkey as a bowling ball and were extremely thrilled about the turkey screech when it hit the pins.
I can only hope they can recover if they no longer work in the slaughter house. It's really difficult to imagine their situation. =(
I've watched interviews and it seems like initially the workers were vomiting and in general ill when witnessing the slaughter, but they get used to the environment after a while. At some places, you have to complete your daily quota before you can go home and at others your pay is by the weight and quality the meat processed so for them it would be best to process the meat as fast as possible.
I think that there are a few answers to this question. Certainly, some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and endure the emotional and psychological after-effects of engaging in slaughter for a long time; some may never recover. Other people, sadly, enjoy killing, although my guess is that this is a small percentage. But in the United States, the majority of workers in slaughter houses are immigrants, primarily from Mexico and Central America. My brother lived off-and-on over a period of six years in a small village in Mexico, high in the mountains of Nayarit state, the type of place where a tourist would never venture. He and I recently had a conversation about the killing of farm animals there. My brother said that the people in the rancho where he lived considered killing to be a part of everyday life, and otherwise caring people would think nothing of killing a chicken while engaged in conversation with a neighbor. He was often shocked at how an animal that was treated like a pet would be summarily executed right in front of children. His belief is that this casual attitude towards the life and death of farm animals is a reason that many of the migrant workers here have no qualms about working in a slaughterhouse. It is simply a society in which the majority of people do not value animals as anything other than a food source. Naturally, most societies on earth have similar feelings, but the majority of people in the developed world are so far removed from the killing of their food that they do not give it a second thought. Seeing a package of meat wrapped in plastic in the grocery store makes it much easier to eat a meat-based diet because the end user no longer has to be intimately involved in the animal's death. It is the slaughterhouse workers who enable society at large to ignore the suffering and killing of billions of animals. And if those workers get used to doing a job and do not give any thought to the acts that they are performing, then they have lost their humanity in exchange for a paycheck. It is an epic tragedy for the animals, but it is also a sad descent into dehumanization for those who perform the killing.